RSS vs WebFeed ?

Just wanted to toss in my 2 cents on the whole RSS vs Web Feed issue.

A brief summary: RSS (really simple syndication) lets you subscribe to websites, podcasts and other things. Once you have worked out how to use it your internet browsing is changed forever. Instead of having to go back to a website to see if its changed, your subscription service sends you the latest news and headlines.

There is an RSS feed for this site – its the orange icon on the bottom right hand corner of the browser. If you have an RSS agregator or reader, you put the link into it and you started getting updates of the site when I make them. You don’t have to give me any information like an email address to subscribe to a newsletter. You come and go as you please.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Microsoft thinks so too and the are incorporating RSS into the next version of Windows – Vista – formerly known as longhorn. It’s due out late next year. Probably. But Microsoft are planning on putting RSS into Vista in a big way – especially Internet Explorer 7.

However Microsoft want to call it Web Feeds – not RSS. They feel RSS is a bit techy and complicated to explain. Web Feed sounds simple and easy enough. Of course this is upsetting a lot of people who claim Microsoft are trying to reinvent RSS in their own image. Much like they tried to do with html, css, media files, document files and pretty much anything else.

I actually like the term Web Feed. It makes it easier to explain to someone what it is. RSS just sounds weird and unfriendly. I think once you know what it is – rather than what it stands for – its a good name for it. But the 30 second conversation of introducing it to someone and explaining what it does – I’ve just had too many of those in my life of being a geek. Why can’t we find a simpler way of describing things?

Eventually I think the term Web Feed will slowly become more accepted. We will probably still use the RSS / XML buttons – but know them as Web Feed buttons.

MS Betting Big – Again

One of the interesting lines I picked up from Microsoft’s announcement that RSS will be integrated into IE7 and Longhorn – they were Betting Big on RSS.

That’s a big statement from Microsoft. They don’t say it often – probably about every 5 years. Previous Big Bets have been The Internet, Security and XBox.

RSS will no doubt be a huge part of the way we deal with computers in the near to long term future.

Since I installed the Desktop Sidebar with its integrated RSS aggregator, it has completely changed they was I surf the web. A common story among anyone else who has explored RSS.

http://www.desktopsidebar.com/

I think RSS will eventually evolve to a point where most people dont know they are using it. And that will be a good thing. Services will just use RSS, and people will just use those services because they are simple and they work. Few “users” will care what is behind it all.

RSS could indeed be The Main Reason why people will upgrade to Longhorn ! Certainly no-one seems to fussed with the announced features so far. Not when most of them can already be added on to XP with a minimum of fuss.

Including my Desktop Sidebar. It’s a brilliant tool and I love it – but its a free add-on for XP and it works today. I don’t need to wait another 18 months for to pay for Longhorn to get it.

An interesting thought: What would have happened if Microsoft were “on time” with Longhorn and were releasing it now? RSS wouldn’t have made it – just as Windows 95 missed out on the internet because it shipped just as it was taking off.

Longhorn would have shipped without native support for probably the most important bit of technology emerging today. Everyone would then be complaining and waiting impatiently for Longhorn Mk II.

Sometimes you win…